Empowering women in finance: how you can thrive in the fast-growing FinTech sector

Two women review charts stuck on a glass wall


Jacqui Drew from ION Treasury shares her journey into FinTech and her advice on how others can begin a career in the FinTech space.

Jacqui also takes a look at the challenges women face, and gives her advice for other women joining, or wanting to join, the world of tech.

Jacqui Drew currently serves as the Global Head of Sales and Account Management at ION Treasury.

Jacqui currently serves as the Global Head of Sales and Account Management at ION Treasury.

With an extensive background in treasury accounting and advisory services, Jacqui leads a dynamic team responsible for driving new business sales and managing existing accounts for over 1,200 customers.

In her role, Jacqui oversees the entire sales process, from pre-sales to post-sales account management, working closely with cross-functional teams such as Product development and strategy, Customer Support and Professional Services to ensure exceptional client satisfaction.

Jacqui also chairs ION’s Hedge Accounting Technical Taskforce team, focusing on important topics such as IFRS 9, ASC815, IBOR replacement, and negative interest rates. Outside of work, she enjoys family time and engaging in activities like running, swimming, and cycling.


My focus as Global Head of Sales and Account Management is working with companies looking to automate their systems, digitise their treasury processes and streamline their operations thus freeing up their time to focus on value-driven tasks instead. My role supports ION’s objective of helping customers be successful by offering solutions and services that simplify complex processes, boost efficiency, and empower better decision making.

Before joining the FinTech space, I was a Chartered Accountant. I studied accountancy at the University of South Africa, and took my first step into the accounting and treasury world through an internship with Deloitte. I then took the plunge by moving continent and held a product control role in London at a large investment bank, before returning again to Deloitte (this time in their London office) as a Senior Manager. While there, I built a great relationship with Deloitte’s software vendor, and they sourced an opportunity for me to join Reval to help sell and position the solution. This gave me an opportunity to join the FinTech space – an industry I could already tell was innovative, fast-growing and exciting. I joined Reval in 2011, right as the sector began its boom – it was then acquired by ION in 2016.

What may shock you is that when I joined ION I had no coding or AI experience at all – and that still hasn’t changed. I came from an industry where I’ve never needed to learn those skills – my role centers around why our products are the best at solving problems, not how to build them. Many people falsely believe that FinTech is synonymous with coding, but it’s a hugely diverse, multi-pronged industry. There are a variety of fantastic roles available that all require entirely different skillsets and experience; customer management, business development, accounting and advisory, sales and more.

That’s what I think is great about this sector, and why I would encourage any young woman, no matter what education or skillset, to consider getting into the FinTech space. The best teams I’ve worked with are because of their diversity across skills, personalities, cultures and backgrounds. This industry has a role for everyone, and I think that’s what makes it such a dynamic area to work in. 

Since joining ION, an aspect I’ve loved has been the energy, enthusiasm and ideas brought through our graduate programme. We’ve had fantastic candidates who completed various degrees at university and are now launching themselves into a FinTech career. We are able to offer graduates an opportunity to deepdive into a product development role leveraging skills around AI, coding and development, but equally can offer them roles in account management, solution consulting, sales operations and business development. As part of our screening process we not only look at their qualifications and successes but we also focus on someone’s character. Are they up for taking the initiative? Are they rigorous in their approach? Can they think strategically in the long-term? We want them to be a good cultural fit and want to nurture them to achieve great success.

As a woman in this industry, I am fortunate to not have faced significant discrimination due to my gender. Yes, I’ve felt daunted when sitting in a room as the only woman, yes I have gone home worrying if I was skilled enough, if my voice was going to be heard, if I was prepared to share my opinions which might be controversial or different to the norm however this hasn’t stopped me. Growing up I was always encouraged to be prepared, earn your credibility and believe you can achieve more. This has put me in good place to face these challenges but I have equally and most importantly always been supported by managers throughout my career – no one in my working career has ever made me feel like I don’t, or shouldn’t, have a voice because of my gender or my skillset or my title. Instead, I’ve been respected by my peers and those I work for. I think my key advice to young women is to know your value and be prepared, earn your credibility – it doesn’t get given on a plate and be confident in what you say, who you are, and have a rooted belief that you fully deserve to have a seat at the table.

Since becoming a mum of two daughters, one thing I’ve tried to work hard on is to give 100% to my present situation. If I’m at work, I’m giving 100% to my role. If I’m at home, I’m giving 100% to my family and to my children. Trying to do them simultaneously meant I was doing both half-heartedly, and this constantly made me feel like I was never able to fully deliver. Of course, this approach is not always possible, but the more you try to practice this sense of ‘presentness’, the more habitual it becomes.

Secondly, I think it’s important to recognise that the time you devote to one aspect of your life will oscillate over the years. When my children grow more independent, I’ll contribute more to my work life, yet when I retire it’ll be the opposite. It’s important to be at peace with the fact that how much time we commit to certain elements of life is not linear– and that’s absolutely fine. 

Finally, I just feel incredibly blessed that I have an opportunity to both work and be a mother. I’m very lucky to have two healthy girls, a supportive network around me and am surrounded by fantastic people at work in a job that I’m passionate about. I make a conscious effort to remind myself of these things whenever I feel stressed by the demands of balancing both. My goal is to be a great role model to my children, and a great colleague to work with – sometimes juggling both is challenging, but that’s the fun!




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